NOTE: We are talking about New Jersey here to everyone who cares to chime in on this topic.
Roxie, are your referring to a good faith deposit on the purchase of a home when you sign a contract or are you referring to some sort of fee the realtor is charging you to show houses?
There are a lot of schemers out there and quite a few discount brokerages and others alike concocting all kinds of new commission plans because this is niche in the market place for those shopping for low fee agents to work with. As a result some of these agencies canâ€™t pay their overhead and need to charge for other things like showing homes to buyers.
It's getting pretty ridiculous actually but this is how some agencies choose to run their business and I canâ€™t knock them for trying new ideas to see what works for them. I only have problems when they put down other business models usually the full service brokerages to try and boast how much better they are.
If a realtor fee is not what this is about and we are talking about the purchase of a residential not a commercial property then NO, the good faith deposit is absolutely refundable. It is what it is, a "Good Faith" deposit which is the buyers effort to show good faith that at this point in time they intend to follow through with the purchase of the property. Anyone telling you otherwise has no clue what they are talking about.
If I were you I would mention this to your attorney, ask the Broker of Record or office manager at the real estate brokerage as well. There should be no problem for them answering this question forthright.
Last option is to contact the NJ real estate commission and ask one of their investigators if this is allowed or common. I can tell you for one it is not but do your own research because I don't know the particulars of your case.
Broker of Record
Marivic GMAC Real Estate
2056A Lincoln Hwy. (Rt.27)
Edison, NJ 08817-3330
Office: 732-650-9911 Ext.302
Toll Free: 1-866-745-GMAC(4622) Ext.302
(MIDDLESEX MLS SEARCH) http://search.victor.msx.mlxchange.com/
(GSMLS SEARCH) http://www.gsmls.com/
(Monmouth/Ocean MLS) http://monmouthoceanmls.com/victor